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June 24, 2008 12:49 AM UTC

My 30 minutes with Ken

  • by: DavidThi808

As I work my way up the food chain of our Democratic officials I am more and more impressed. I always wondered how Senator Salazar did so well as a politician because at the mass-media level he is good but nothing spectacular. But one on one he is exceptional. One of the best I have ever met. Both in terms of his grasp of the issues and how he comes across.

To me one of the signatures of a smart self-assured person is their willingness to ask questions on subjects that they are supposed to know. We spent the first 5+ minutes with him asking me about the blog-o-sphere. He clearly understands that it now matters a lot. But he also clearly has not been visiting (and we all have such great insight available for him). Very curious, very aware that it matters, and very insightful questions digging in. I would not want to be questioned by him if I had something to hide.

So what drives the Senator? ‘Ohana. ‘Ohana is Hawaiian and the best translation is family but it is much more than that (see the movie Lilo & Stitch for a good definition). His parents, his family history, his culture, his background, that permeates everything. It’s what drives him, but it also is the responsibility that he has to live up to.

He, and all of his siblings, are the first generation in their family to go to college. He grew up poor on a farm, is Hispanic, and now is a U.S. Senator. (Similar to LBJ who also grew up very poor on a farm.) Ken Salazar is living proof of the the truth of the American Dream and he knows that and treasures it. (His parents clearly did an amazing job raising their kids.)

He definitely takes the Senatorial view of the issues. The biggies to him are getting us out of Iraq, resolving the energy problem, and health-care. And he also wants to get Rocky Mountain National Park designated a wilderness area. So a focus on the big issues we face as a country and one state level issue.

Energy is the one he talked about at length. He used the standard “Manhattan Project” for how to approach it. But he was on top of it discussing different technologies, the output we can get from solar and wind farms, the use of saw-grass (and no mention of corn), etc. So he clearly is doing homework on this issue. No mention of nuclear or any hydrocarbon technology.

I asked him about the FISA bill and what was real interesting about his answer was that he said that the bill addressed a number of issues that need to be codified in law and that we need to get it taken care of so we can move on and address other issues. (He said he needed to read the bill before deciding if he would vote for it although his discussion of what he was looking for makes a yes very likely.)

What I found interesting about this was his focus on the Senate getting the job done. That the law addresses a number of items that need to be in statue. Not if the law was perfect, but that it was necessary to legislate and that requires that the Senate come up with an acceptable bill they can pass so the work is accomplished.

I think this speaks to what we have seen from Senator Salazar from the “Gang of 14” to today, an effort to find an acceptable compromise that can pass. By definition he’s going to have people more upset with him than the average Senator because a good compromise tends to have everyone equally unhappy. But the legislators who accomplish these compromises are absolutely essential to the legislative process.

The Salazar family have been called the Kennedy’s of Colorado. I’ll wait to see some from the next generation before saying that myself but it would not surprise me to see it play out that way. If so, I think we as a state will do very well by them.

First posted on Liberal and Loving It


29 thoughts on “My 30 minutes with Ken

  1. I agree with you, although the guy from Florida doesn’t seem to (see another thread of the dude leaving the Democratic Party because it’s not doing what he wants when he wants it).

    1. I don’t dive into the vote of the day in the “my lunch with ***” items because the idea is to get a broader picture of the person. There’s plenty of people writing about the issue of the day with regard to each individual.

      1. a lot more willing to be generous in your assessment of Ken Salazar than in your assessment of Udall who has a more progressive voting record.  Can’t we do first things first and get that White House back and increase that majority in the Senate and House before we start the old circular firing squad thing? If we don’t like the results we can go from there.

        1. If I interview Udall for a “my lunch with Mark” it would be very similiar to the Salazar one. The purpose of the interview is to learn more about what drives them, not to go discuss the issue of the day. All the other media is already doing that so I add nothing useful there.

          I wanted to tell Salazar how I felt about FISA today. I wanted to very very much. I didn’t. And I only asked him about it because when I posted this today I figured it would be the first question.

          Of course, we’ll never know how the interview with Udall would go – he’s the one Democrat who turned me down – months ago. Apparently my “lunch with …” interviews are too hard-hitting for him.

          As to elect him first, see if we want him second – once he’s elected were stuck with him forever. And my point is not to have Schaffer win, it’s to have it get close enough that Udall regains his cojones.

              1. You know, being a Congressman and a Senate candidate and a father.

                It’s nice that Senator Salazar met with you, but he isn’t running for anything this year. He has a little more time on his hands.

                  1. He talks to the media whenever they ask him to talk. He’s on TV, in print, or on the radio pretty much every day. And he talks to people every minute of every day. He’s just not talking to you. And why should he?

                    You’ve demonstrated repeatedly that you don’t pay attention, so you make baseless claims like he’s not running ads (when in fact ads have been running for over a month), that he doesn’t have any public meetings (despite the fact that he does–regularly) and then you call him names.

                    So, again, why should he talk to you?

                    1. After all, I’m only a constituent of his so no reason he should ever listen to me.

                      And because of his time machine he knew I would not support him on the FISA bill, it made sense to ignore my full support for him up to this point.

                      Yep, you’re right. He should only talk to people who still fawn over him.

                      As to the public meetings – look at his website. It lists 2 and does not say if he will take questions at either. Again you’re right – 2 meetings is plenty over the next 4 months.

                      I guess we should just consider ourselves lucky Udall is willing to run…

          1. The only problem there is, we don’t know which direction Udall runs if he’s running scared.  If he runs left, your plan works.  If he runs to the middle, you’ve just made yourself a bigger mess.

            Colorado is a goofy state (I’m from CA so every  state is goofy to me) and given the way Salazar and Ritter were elected, Udall would be smart to run towards the middle is he feels challenged by the left of the Dem party.  There are a lot of votes there against a weak Repub like Schaffer.  Perhaps wayyy more votes than the ones he loses on the left…

            1. …contrary to what Dick Wadhams says (and those on the far left who seem to agree with him) Udall has never been a flaming lefty.

              I recall the Statesman headline about the race in 1998 in his run against Bob Greenlee: “Two Moderates Run in CD2.”

              In 2000, the Rocky endorsement said that he “has pleasantly surprised us with his willingness to steer a bipartisan course on numerous issues – from Rocky Flats to wilderness, from hog farm policy to forest management that can limit wildfire potential. Indeed, Udall may be the most moderate-leaning Democrat to represent the 2nd District in a generation.”


              So while a few people here have words for him like “milquetoast” and “corporate whore,” I have a different word: effective.

              1. that some people…like many on this blog…can find no other way to show their love for Dem candidates and politicians than by constantly poking them in the ribs with a stick.  It’s just what they do.

                People get pissed at Udall and Salazar; but, at the end of the day, they’ll take them over Schaffer, Coors, and Allard every day of the week.  

                Like you say, Udall has never been way out in left field.  Apparently it takes a state-wide campaign for people to realize it…

    2. …and when Salazar voted for the Military Commissions Act I faxed a letter telling him that come 2010 I would do everthing I can to be rid of him.

      Good thing I moved, or he would be outta there!  🙂

      Regardless of his competency, my touchstone is the Constitution.  Within reasonable limits that good men may disagree, anything so obviously vile such as the act and this new FISA does not deserve reelection.  

      1. MUCH rather have Udall than Schaffer and this election, those are the choices. And my point wasn’t elect him first, see if we want him later.  My point is that only by reaching a certain critical mass majority can we have the luxury of letting a Republican  win just to send a message of disapproval to a Dem nominee.  

        The biggest impediment to Udall getting elected instead of Schaffer is the perception that he’s too liberal, for goodness sake.  Dabee is right about the middle.  In Colorado, nobody is going to get elected state wide if they aren’t perceived as somewhere in the general neighborhood of the middle.

        Udall is certainly more progressive than Salazar. Conditions now are different than in 2004 when Salazar was elected.  In 2004 Udall couldn’t have been elected, he was perceived as too far left. Salazar was the right choice even though many hearts belonged to Mike Miles who was not an electable option.  

        Since then the center has moved enough so that Udall IS electable state wide but no shoe in and, once again, the alternative is Schaffer. Putting pressure on Udall is all well and good but in the end, refusing to  support him isn’t a good option.  As an incumbent with a bigger majority behind him and a Dem in the White House, I’m pretty sure almost all of his votes WILL be more to your liking.  I honestly don’t understand how this all isn’t obvious.

        1. If I were in CO, of course I would vote for Udall.  As a general philosophy, regardless of race or location, it’ve very, very rare that I will vote for a Republican.  Typically, when I’ve done so, the Dem is really, really poorly qualified and the race is not a position that makes law.

          Everything you say is correct.

        2. When controlling congress is not enough to stop a bill going forward. I understand the need to compromise. I understand passing legislation requires Bush. But we can stop legislation. And the congress should not violate the constitution or the rule of law.

          1. Without Congressional guidance, the FISA court has essentially stopped issuing warrants because of the backlog after its ruling that foreign-to-foreign communications that pass through US routers requires a warrant.

            As Nancy Pelosi rightly said on the House floor, we have troops in the field whose safety relies on the intelligence gathered by the NSA, the DIA, and the CIA. Al Qaida continues to rebuild, and Osama bin Laden is still a very wealthy guy who can finance more terrorist attacks. Pakistan is almost totally out of Musharraf’s control along the border. The whole region is hot and ready to pop.

            If failing to have an effective intelligence program by refusing to update FISA results in failure to prevent a conflagration in that region or a terrorist attack on U.S. soil, the Democrats who blocked it would be not just politically responsible but morally responsible.

            Call me crazy, but in my mind preventing death and destruction outweighs sticking it to Bush and/or telecom companies.

            As the Denver Post opines this morning, despite the bill’s problems, it’s the right thing to do.

          2. It isn’t having held a small majority in the House and only a technical majority, which isn’t really a majority on any issues dealing with the Bush administration at all because of Lieberman, in the Senate for all of two year’s after over a decade of domination by the other party and over two decades of the center relocating to the right dating back to the Reagan era.

            But go ahead, Dave. Send your little message.  Refuse to dirty your pure little hands.  Don’t support Udall.  I’m confident  he can win without you. And I’m confident the country and state will both be better off without Schaffer in the Senate.  

            1. Why is it everyone takes any critism as “you’re voting for the other guy.” I think this belief that we dare not critisize Saint Udall is very bad for our party. Since when do we require blind obidience toward our candidates?

  2. I’ve attended Sen. Salazar’s annual energy summit the last few years. Initially the conference brought together interested parties with very little investment. This year a plethora of large institutions actively invest in Colorado and have made this state a new energy hub.

    Some in the progressive side of the party may fault him for his willingness to compromise to get things done. It has been my experience in life that a willingness to compromise is the only way to move forward in any relationship.

    In a state in which independents swing elections, Sen. Salazar has shown

    the abiity to listen and represent all Coloradans.  

  3. I know we should not let the posts of supporters here color our view of a candidate. But it does speak to the people that the candidate attracts as advocates.

    The statements here about how people find it unacceptable to critisize one of our own candidates makes me think even less of Udall. It’s like they are trying to shield him from anything negative.

    We presently have a president who operates in a bubble – I don’t want a Senator who takes the same approach.

      1. Apparently [David’s] “lunch with …” interviews are too hard-hitting for him.

        This despite the notable lack of anything approaching hard-hitting in the Salazar puff piece.

        Ken Salazar is living proof of the the truth of the American Dream and he knows that and treasures it. (His parents clearly did an amazing job raising their kids.)

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